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Do you need a doula? What is a birth doula?

A long time ago, women used to birth easily, naturally with comfort provided by a bevy of knowing women. The woman already knows what is happening is natural and allows her body to do it because the environment (space, comfort, messages) is absolutely the right environment for her to birth.

Nurses provided a certain amount of care - more medical and sometimes a supportive word. However they are stretched between many rooms and women and administrative work. Women today are left to themselves with a clueless scared husband, bright lights, beeping machines and continuously monitored and restricted in food, positions etc. Changes in nurses during shifts cause a mother to feel abandoned (even if its irrational) which again...causes discomfort.

Birth in these circumstances are guaranteed to be more uncomfortable, more scary and more painful.

In comes a Birth Doula.

Birth doula at work Thomson Medical

What is a birth doula?

A birth doula is a professional, trained pregnancy companion whose main goal is to help families have a safe, healthy and positive labour experience. Birth doulas are not medical professionals even though they usually have knowledge on medical procedures.

There are doulas with varying beliefs and it is important to find a doula who matches your goals. I have heard of women who engaged doulas who support hypnobirths but do not truly believe in it. This can have a paramount effect on the energy in the labour room. If you prefer a more intervened birth and looking for birth doula support through that, there are also doulas who can support you that way without judgement.

A doula usually meets with you several times before your labour day for your preparation. She sees you when you are in active labour and stays with you until your baby is born and bonding with you. Some birth doulas visit a mother after she has settled in at home to check in on her. Some write their birth stories and provide photos...sometimes this postnatal meeting allows a mother to debrief her birth.

During Labour

A birth doula provides the mother physical hands on support, emotional, mental, spiritual support... so she can work with ease with her baby. Every doula has their style. Just like how every woman comforting a labouring mother in the past has their differing styles. These supportive, non judgemental women are essential for a labouring woman to feel better.

Why a good and positive birth is important for motherhood?

A 2009 study (Takehara et al, 2009) studied the implications of emotionally enriching childbirth experiences on postnatal depression and parenting stress after childbirth.

Here are the results:

"This study revealed that having good childbirth experiences inhibits negative awareness of motherhood and abusive behavior towards children. These results show that it is important for mothers to be provided with appropriate care during pregnancy and labor for preventing child abuse and parenting stress and anxiety."

It is absolutely necessary for a woman to have a good birth to flow into motherhood healthily, bonding easily and nurturing her baby. This leads me to conclude that a doula is absolutely necessary for every woman to feel supported, for better family health.

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